I only just met the little haole women from Albuquerque, lately of Kona on the day of our arrival. She had rescued us from the airport when our car rental company actually didn’t have a car for us (apparently a common issue in Kona), greeting us with orchid leis, ice cold water, and the biggest smile west of the Farallon Islands. In minutes we became more than second cousins… be became life-long friends who had only just met. You know the cliché: it was like we’d known each other our whole lives.
When cousin Cindy swept us away from the hot asphalt of the car rental lot and delivered us to an oceanside beach bar with live music and humongous mai tais, she magically transported us from a tedious perfunctory travel chore to a tropical paradise. That is Cindy Coat’s superpower. She sees magic, spins magic through her art, and makes magic happen.
On this final day of our Big Island Adventure, cousin Cindy was ready for a north Kona excursion. She had packed her car with towels, water, snacks, and all we needed for surviving a grueling day of beaching, sightseeing, and joyriding. As a 23 year resident of Kona, Cindy knows all the secret places and all the tricks for getting into them.
We first hit ‘Ai’opio Beach, a gorgeous white sand crescent tucked into a lava rock cove on the north side of the Honokohau Harbor. But too crowded on this day, so onto stop number 2: Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park.
The beach there is beautiful, and would probably be a great place to serenely contemplate a sunset, one’s navel, or life in general. But Cindy already had the perfect soaking spot in mind: Kikaua Beach.
This is the billionaire’s beach, or so we have been told. There is limited parking at Kikaua, and we got the last spot (cousin Cindy claims to have the best parking karma on the island). We bobbed in the warmest salt water I’ve ever felt in Hawaii. Brian, who grew up in San Diego County, has a nano-scale seawater thermometers in every skin cell and proclaimed the ocean at Kikaua to be 83°F, or just about exactly the same as the air. We soaked and shared family gossip, laughed and basked in our wretched predicament. It was heavenly. And then, with a twinkle in her eye, Cindy announced that it was time for day-drinking!
She took us to Lava Lava Beach Club, built on stunning ‘Anaeho’omalu Bay, an almost-movie-location-perfect-beach-side restaurant & bar set in the coconut palms behind the bay. I had been here before, in 1975, when there was nothing here but palm trees and sand. This is the place where, now the stuff of family lore, my dad lost the car keys while snorkeling on the reef. But dad was the original MacGuyver, and he used a fish hook to cross circuit the ignition wires, hot-wiring the car. We made it home to our Hilo summer home safe and sound. In 2019, we enjoyed tropical cocktails and Mauna Kea-sized basket of delicious seasoned fries.
Our final beach tour stop was at lovely Hapuna, a state beach park that always draws a crowd and today was no exception. It is the largest stretch of white sand on the Big Island. On this beautiful afternoon, Haleakala on Maui was easily visible on the northern horizon.
Cindy drove us up the Kohala coast highway, past heiaus and beach parks. The aridness of south Kohala suddenly turned to green as we approached Hawi. We had finally closed the loop of our 10 day road tour around this amazing mid-Pacific paradise – a word that seems too simplistic to encompass the diversity and complexity of this incredible island. Back in Kona, Cindy and her husband took us to a delicious farewell dinner at Quinn’s Almost by the Sea. The menu had many temptations, but this was our last meal. It had to be ono. And it was so very ono.
Thank you for following this Voyage con Osos! We will be departing for another adventure soon!